Hamed has big plans

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The Independent Online
Naseem Hamed is a man in a hurry as he prepares his first defence of the World Boxing Organisation featherweight title against Nigeria's Said Lawal at the Scottish Exhibition Centre in Glasgow tonight.

A damaged right hand kept Hamed out of action for nearly six months after he took the title from Steve Robinson in Cardiff. Now the 22-year-old Sheffield showman, who says his hand is fine, aims to make up for lost time. He predicts victory in two rounds and has set himself an outrageous task of winning three more world titles before the end of the year.

Tom Johnson, the International Boxing Federation champion from the United States, is his first target. Mexico's WBO super-bantamweight holder, Marco Antonio Barrera is another.

"The Prince is ready to take over British boxing again. I can't wait to be back in the ring,'' Hamed said. "I'm so strong and fit, the weight is great and the buzz I'm getting is tremendous. I don't say things I can't achieve."

Hamed was at ringside in Newcastle a fortnight ago when Johnson survived an early knock-down to force a last-round stoppage for a 10th title win. "I wasn't impressed. He's getting a bit old and looks rather chinny," Hamed added. "I've been watching tapes of Barrera and he is probably the best in the two divisions. But if he comes in with his face, he's tailor- made for me. My power is not of super-bantam or feather. I'm punching harder than either of those two weights."

Hamed, going for his 21st successive win, dismisses Lawal's chances on the basis of two blemishes on a 19-fight record. The 26-year-old Austrian- based challenger lost and drew with Freddy Cruz, who Hamed beat in six rounds in 1994.

"I gave Cruz such a beating that he couldn't wait to get out of the ring," Hamed said. "Lawal is a bit further up than mediocre but has never boxed anyone of my standard. I've two rounds in my head and I'm sticking with that. It will be quick, so don't blink."

The only question mark concerns the hand. Is it really right? Doubts have been expressed in some quarters.

n Joe Bugner will continue his 30-year career in Berlin tonight hoping to preserve his remote chance a re-match with Frank Bruno. The Australian- based Bugner, 46, challenges Britain's Scott Welch for the World Boxing Organisation inter-continental heavyweight title.